jazz archives‎ > ‎



Americans in Paris force in
French jazz life

Starting in the 1920s, jazz has been a significant part of the cultural life in France. Since the creation of Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, France has been one of the leading forces in European jazz.

The first European jazz festival was hold in Paris in 1949, visited by american musicians such as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and musicians from the European countries like England and Sweden.

Max Roach and Charlie Parker with Swedish drummer Sven Bollhem in Paris 1949

Don Byas and James Moody with French musicians in Paris 1949

Juliette Greco with Miles Davis in Paris -49

The festival had a great impact on the French jazz life, and established Paris as the capitol of jazz in Europe. Many American musicians have spent time in Paris since then. Sidney Bechet lived there for many years. There was a vibrant Left Bank jazz scene in which expatriates of the bebop era ruled for years including Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and others. Later Art of Ensemble of Chicago lived in Paris for some years, as did many avant garde musicians such as Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy. They all would have an influence on French jazz.

Django Reinhardt and the French jazz sound

However, French jazz had its own inspirations as well. In the period between the two world wars, jazz became French in the cosmopolitan city of Paris. Django Reinhardt among others turned it from a foreign American music into a genuin French sound that emanated from local bands. That's one of the reasons that jazz became so widely performed in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s and an important part of French culture and entertainment.

The american saxophonist and writer David Liebman describes Paris as a "bouillabaisse of people and influences, mainly from the former colonies which results in a tremendous hodgepodge of musical cultures". He also says that the French truly respond to jazz and enthusiastically embrace it as a people. Therefore, Liebman says, "Paris is the only logical place to live, beside New York, if your are interested in jazz and its offshoots".


VOUGE was established in France in 1948. The jazz catalogue included recordings by native musicians, American expatriates such as Sidney Bechet, and visitors from USA, including Clifford Brown, Gerry Mulligan and Art Farmer.

The company also held licenses to distribute in France recordings made by small American labels, such as Blue Note and Contemporary.


A subsidiary label, also called Vogue, was stablished in England in 1951. Swing Records, established in Paris in 1937, was incorporated in the late 1940s and Vogue continued to issue records also on the Swing label throughout the 1950s.

PIERRE MERLIN was a French designer and illustrator who worked for the Vogue and Swing labels in the beginning of 1950s. He created numerous of cover designs in a style reminding of David Stone Martin.

All his covers are 10" LPs. Many of them are american recordings which were leased by the French labels to be issued in France. Probably by economic reasons they were leased without the use of the original US design. So they made their own covers.

Pierre Merlin also created album covers for recordings made in France, especially traditionell jazz by Sidney Bechet and others. And several albums by American jazz musicians visiting Paris, have covers made by Pierre Merlin.

Pierre Merlin´s last album cover was issued in 1954. He left the record business but continued to work with design. Having also studied architecture he found a specializing in the design of railway stations.

JEAN-PIERRE LELOIR began his career as a photographer in the early 1950s. He has taken numerous photographs for french jazz album covers and published photos in many books and magazines.
His love for music has led him to almost all great jazz musicians, and also other great artists such as Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and rock stars such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
 Django Reinhardt   Label: HMV FFLP 1027   10" LP mid 1950s

Fats Navarro a.o.: Jazz Off The Air   Label: Vogue LD 095   10" LP 1952
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin
Max Roach   Label: Vogue LD 014   10" LP 1952
 Design and illustration: Pierre Merlin
 Lee Konitz: Jazz Time Paris   Label: Vogue LDE 060 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953
Clifford Brown . Gigi Gryce: Jazz Time Paris   Label: Vogue LD 173   10" LP 1953
Bobby Jaspar and Henri Renaud   Label: Vogue LDE 041 (UK edition)   10" LP 1953
Zoot Sims All Stars   Label: Barclay 84019   10" LP c.1953
Thelonious Monk Trio   Label: Barclay 84058   10" LP 1954   Photo: Herman Leonard
Guy Lafitte   Label: Columbia 1085   10" LP 1954   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Zoot Sims Quartet   Label: Vogue EPL 7063   7" EP 1954
 Henri Renaud: Sextius   Label: Vogue EPL 7177   7" EP 1954   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Lucky Thompson and his orchestra   Label: Columbia 1083   10" LP 1954
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
 Thelonious Monk: Piano Solo  Label: Vogue 33342   10" LP 1954   Photo: Francis Wolff
 Sidney Bechet avec Andre Reweliotty orch.   Label: Vogue LD 219   10" LP 1954
Guy Lafitte - son saxo-tenor et son orchestre   Label: Pathe ST 1057   10" LP 1954
A Little Bit of Don Byas   Label: Vogue EPV 1068 (UK edition)   7" EP 1955
 Photo: Leon Kaba
 L. Hampton and his New French Sound   Label: Barclay/Felsted 85002  
12" LP 1955 (UK edition)
Chet Baker: In Paris, vol. 1   Label: Barclay/Felsted 85008 (UK)   12" LP 1955
 Photo: J.C. Bernath
 Bud Powell: Le Solitaire   Label: Barclay 3611   10" LP 1955   Photo: Herman Leonard
Bernard Peiffer   Label: Barclay 74008   7" EP 1955   Photo: Herman Leonard
LPs from 1955: Rene Thomas on 10" Barclay 84.030, and
Rene Urtreger on 12" Felsted EDL 87020 (UK edition)
 Maurice Vander: Piano Jazz (10" LP - Vega V35M721), and
Jean-Pierre Sasson Quartet (7" EP - Ducretet-Thomson 460 V 067). Both from 1955
 Zoot Sims   Label: London Ducretet Thomson D93099   10" LP 1956 (UK edition)
 Lucky Thompson   Label: Swing 30039   12" LP 1956   Photo: J.C. Bernath
Bobby Jaspar Quintet   Label: Columbia FPX 123   12" LP 1956   Photo: Bill Savory
 Chet Baker: In Paris, vol. 2   Label: Barclay 84017   12" LP 1956
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
J. Lewis - S. Distel: Afternoon in Paris   Label: Barclay MEDX 12005   12" LP 1956
 Martial Solal: Escale a Paris   Label: Swing LDM 30044   12" LP 1956
Zoot Sims - Henri Renaud   Label: Ducretet-Thomson 450 V 052   10" LP 1956
Lucky Thompson & Gerard Pochonet   Label: Swing LDM 30.030   12" LP 1956
Jo Jaguar (pseudonym for Martial Solal) is an EP from 1956 (Vogue EPL 7.251),
Carl Fontana to the right is an LP (Club des amareurs du disque 3008) from the same year
EP albums from 1956: Jean-Claude Pelletier trio (Columbia ESDF 1099),
and Bobby Jaspar Quintet (Columbia ESDF 1142)
 EPs from 1956 and 1957: Hubert Fol Quartet (Barclay 74016), and
Henri Renaud Trio (Ducretet Thomson 450.V052)
 Chet Baker: I get Chet   Label: Barclay/Felsted 85036 (UK)   12" LP 1957
Barney Wilen Quintet   Label: Guilde du Jazz J1239   12" LP 1957
 Rene Urtreger Trio   Label: Versailles STDX 8008   12" LP 1957
Georges Arvanitas: 3 am   Label: Pretoria 30 J 3000   12" LP 1958
 M. Davis: Ascenseur pour l´echafaud   Label: Fontana 660213   10" LP 1958
M. Davis: Ascenseur pour l´echafaud   Label: Fontana 660213 (Holland)   10" LP 1958
 Alternate cover 
Art Blakey au club St. Germain   Label: RCA 430044   12" LP 1958
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
EP albums from 1959: Paris Jazz Trio (Columbia ESDF 1201), and
Suite No. 1 by Martial Solal (Columbia ESDF 1304)
barney Wilen: Jazz sur Seine   Label: Philips P 77.127   12" LP 1958
 Jef Gilson Septet   Label: Spirit Jazz SPJ 1   10" LP 1958
Donald Byrd in Paris   Label: brunswick 87 903   12" LP 1958
Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir 
Donald Byrd: Parisian Thoroughfare   Label: brunswick 87 904   12" LP 1958
Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir 
Lester Young: Le Dernier Message   Label: Barclay 84069   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Herman Leonard
Barney Wilen: Barney   Label: RCA 4030053   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
 Georges Arvanitas: Cocktail for three   Label: Pretoria 30.J.3003   12" LP 1959
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
 LPs from late 1950s: Michel Hausser - Bobby Jaspar: Vibes and Flute (Columbia FPX 173),
and Henri Crolla: Le Paris Sentimental (Vega 305 S888)
 Clifford Brown: Memorial   Vogue 607.30   12" LP 1959
 Barney Wilen: Un temoin dans la ville   Fontana 660.226   12" LP 1959
The Kenny Clarke Orchestra   Label: Metropole 46001   12" LP 1959
Humair - Urtreger - Michelot: HUM!   Label: Vega V 30 S837   12" LP 1960
Art Blakey: Les liaisons dangereuses   Label: Fontana 680203   12" LP 1960
Memorial Oscar Pettiford   Label: Vogue LD 523-30   12" LP 1960
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Michel Hausser: Up in Hamburg   Label: Columbia FPX189  12" LP 1960
Jef Gilson: Enfin!   Label: CED 30 J 1002   12" LP 1963
Design: Pierre Caron   Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Sonny Criss w. Georges Arvanitas and Rene Thomas   Label: Brunswick 87519   12" LP 1963
Sonny Criss: Blues pour flirter   Label: Polydor 27004   7" EP 1963
Jean-Luc Ponty   Label: Philips P77810L   12" LP 1964
LPs by Jef Gilson from mid 1960s: Oeil Vision (CED AF 1), and
Jef Gilson a Gaveau, big band featuring Woody Shaw and Nathan Davis (SFP 10.004)
Stuff Smith - Stephane Grappely   Label: Barclay 84110   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Nathan Davis: Peace Treaty   Label: SFP 10.003 (France)   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Martial Solal en liberté   Label: Columbia CCTX 240502 (France)   12" LP 1965
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Ornette Coleman: Chappaqua Suite   Label: CBS 62896-97   12" LP 1965
Martial Solal: Son 66   Label: EMI Columbia FPX 314   12" LP 1966
 Photo: Jean-Pierre Leloir
Martial Solal: En direct du Blue Note   Label: EMI Columbia CTX 40323   12" LP 1966
Paul Bley: Ramblin   Label: BYG Actuel 529.313   12" LP 1966
 Photo: Giuseppe Pino
Barney Wilen: Zodiac   Label: Vogue CLVX 9130   12" LP 1966
Francois Tusques: Free Jazz   Label: Mouloudji EM13507   12" LP 1966
Francois Tusques avec Barney Wilen   Label: Mouloudji EMI 13517   12" LP 1967


Marion Brown: Le temps fou   Label: Polydor 658 142   12" LP 1968

Red Mitchell: One Long String   Label: Mercury 135714   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Claude Delorme
Guy Lafitte: Blues   Label: Vega 19.171   12" LP 1969
 The Fabulous Slide Hampton Quartet   Label: EMI Pathe C 062-10156   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Christian Rose
Nathan Davis Quartet: Jazz Concert   Label: Edici ED 0061010   12" LP 1969
 Steve Lacy: Moon   Label: BYG Actuel 529 352   12" LP 1969
 Photo: Adriano Mordenti


Jean Philippe Blin: What Matter Now?   Label: Futura GU.GER 21   12" LP 1969


Paul Bley Quartet with Ornette Coleman   Label: America 30 AM 6120   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras


 A. Ayler: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83503   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras


C. Taylor: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83508   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras


 Sun Ra: Nuits de La Fondation Maeght   Label: Shandar 83505   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Philippe Gras


Art Ensemble of Chicago: Certain Blacks   Label: America 30 AM 6098   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau


Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie   Label: Pathé C062-11365   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Jean-Marc Ripert


Art Ensemble of Chicago: Phase One   Label: America 30 AM 6116   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau


Art Ensemble of Chicago w. Fontella Bass   Label: America 30 AM 6117   12" LP c.1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau


Frank Wright: Uhuru Na Umoja   Label: America 30 AM 6104   12" LP c.1970

 Roswell Rudd   Label: America 30 AM 6114   12" LP c.1970


Paul Gonsalves and his All Stars   Label: Riviera 521 149   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Christian Rose


 Dizzy Reece: From In to Out   Label: Futura 16   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Eleonore Bakrtadze


Archie Shepp: Black Gipsy   Label: America 30 AM 6099   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau


 Frank Wright: Church Number Nine   Label: Calumet 3674   12" LP 1970
 Photo: Gilbert Moreau


 Paul Bley: Improvise   Label: America 30 AM 6121   12" LP 1971
 Photo: Horace


Steve Lacy: Wordless   Label: Futura GER 22   12" LP 1971
 Photo: Alain Gendolfi


Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Birds of a Feather   Label: BYG 529 023   12" LP 1971


Freddie Redd: Under Paris Skies   Label: Futura Swing 03   12" LP 1971
 Design: R. Oghia   Photo: Diane Barrett


Dexter Gordon: Parisian Concert   Label: Futura GER 41   12" LP 1973
 Design: R. Delongeas   Photo: C. Fauchard


 J. Gilson - H. Singer: Soul of Africa   Label: Le chan du Monde LDX 74556   12" LP 1974

Barney Wilen: La Note Bleue   Label: IDA Records 010   12" LP 1985
 Illustration: Jacues de Loustal